Social media has become an increasing part of archaeological outreach, so much so that the Society for American Archaeology 2014 meeting will have an entire session devoted to “Blogging in Archaeology.” Unfortunately, not everyone can make it to the meeting in Austin, nor can you always guarantee that you’ll be able to attend all the sessions you want while there. In an effort to address this, Doug of the appropriately named blog Doug’s archaeology, has graciously decided to host a monthly blogging carnival leading up to the 2014 meeting. Each month, Doug will pose a question to blogging archaeologists about their experiences in the blogosphere, and the replies will be summarized on his site. For anyone interested in how archaeologists can use blogs in their research, is interested in starting a blog but doesn’t know how, or you just want to find some great new archaeology blogs, we definitely recommend following along over the next few months!
For the first month, Doug is asking…
Why blogging? – Why did you, or if it was a group- the group, start a blog?
If you are a long time reader of our blog, you’ll know that we only recently started blogging about our archaeological pursuits. Unlike many other participants, we’re relatively new to this whole experience, clocking in a measly two weeks of posts. Nevertheless, we’re addicted to blogging, and the reasons behind starting are still fresh in our minds…so here goes!
1. This stuff is pretty cool! There are many reasons why archaeologists should be concerned with public engagement, and we will get to those below, but one of our main motivations behind this blog is that the “stuff” we find is pretty interesting. Medicine bottles with questionable levels of alcohol content, the lost spectacles of some absent-minded person, the dentures of a potentially MORE absent-minded person, and even a proto-credit card are just some of the objects we’ve found during our excavations. By blogging about the objects, and more importantly, the stories behind them, we’re hoping to illustrate how archaeology isn’t just arrowheads and painted pottery, but is literally under their feet at every turn.
2. Public engagement perception. Public engagement is a tricky thing in archaeology. We are all charged with engaging the public, we all understand the importance of public outreach and education, granting bodies require us to justify our project’s greater “good”, and many of us perform a variety of public education services. Yet, though its importance is recognized and discussed, public engagement is often valued as an ADDITIONAL component to the main goal of scientific research. The increasing use of blogs in archaeology is a great way to demonstrate to the larger archaeological community the need for public engagement and to push the discussion beyond “we should do this” to “we should value this.”
3. Public perceptions of archaeology. Most people associate archaeology with exotic locales, fedora wearing men, and pyramids full of gold. And dinosaurs. ALWAYS dinosaurs. While archaeologists are lucky that the general public is often naturally curious about what we do, the public is not always sure how we contribute to society beyond filling museums with objects and writing thicker history books. The issue of what we do and how we contribute has become increasingly important over the past decade, yet it often seems that archaeologists have become removed from the conversation. Since most conversations happen online these days, blogging presents several advantages to the archaeologist and the public. It allows archaeologists to reach a number of people with different interests and perceptions, it allows the public to engage archaeology anywhere the internet is available, it doesn’t cost as much as going to a museum, and it allows archaeologists a more informal form of writing that is likely to be more interesting to the public at large. And we can’t lie, blogging is a great way for potential clients to learn more about our company and the services it offers!
So, there you have it! ( that is, if you’ve managed to stick with us through that mountain of words!) We believe blogs are a powerful asset to any archaeologist, and that they will eventually become part of most archaeologists’ repertoire of skills. We’re excited to have joined the blogging community and we hope you’ll stay tuned for more.
In the spirit of Doug’s post, we don’t simply want to tell you what we think, but want to encourage more discussion as well. So we’d like to ask you what are some of your favorite archaeology blogs? What kind of posts do you like to read? How could archaeologists make their blogs more widely accessible and popular?
If you want to find more posts, check out Doug’s page or use #blogarch on Twitter!